So often underrated, merlot is finally gaining recognition for the unique experience it offers the palate.
What does merlot taste like?
In the world of wine, merlot wears the tailored suit, drives the fancy car, and orders its martini shaken, not stirred. It is smooth. Light tannins and a particularly soft finish make this perhaps the easiest red of all to drink, and it’s these characteristics that have placed merlot as a blend favourite, tasked with evening out the more bitey and bold flavours of cabernet sauvignon, grenache and mourvèdre. But merlot also makes for a terrific standalone varietal. Dark fruit flavours like raspberry, black cherry and plum are pronounced, hints of coffee, mocha and vanilla add to the silkiness, and a dull finish of tobacco and graphite takes the place of the acidic bite found in the likes of shiraz and cab sauv. Don’t be surprised if you empty your glass in half the time you normally would.
Is merlot sweet or dry?
Like all of Australia’s traditional reds, merlot is an unfortified wine with zero residual sugar added, and is therefore classed as dry. But the terms ‘dry’ and ‘sweet’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘fruity’ and ‘earthy’ – it might be a dry wine, but merlot is overflowing with fruit flavours, so there will still be enough sweetness for those who like a couple of sugars in their coffee.
What is the difference between merlot and cabernet sauvignon?
Apart from the obligatory shiraz, which other red should you serve at your dinner party?
The choice often comes down to two Australian favourites – cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The difference between the two is pretty obvious at first sip. Cabernet sauvignon is more robust, bold and rich, while merlot is more delicate, smooth and fruity. While it’s a broad oversimplification, seasoned oenophiles often enjoy the full-bodied complexity of cabernet sauvignon, while less serious red drinkers are partial to the accessibility and silkiness of a quality merlot (not that wine connoisseurs can’t enjoy merlot just as much as everyone else!)
Is merlot full-bodied?
One of the most common (and often confusing) ways to analyse wine is to talk about its body. We’re decent and respectable wine drinkers, so this doesn’t mean discussing whether the wine has curves in all the right places, but rather how it feels in the mouth. The scale groups wines into three categories – light-, medium- and full-bodied – which can be thought of as the difference between the mouth feel of skim milk, whole milk and cream. Like almost all of Australia’s most popular reds, merlot is classed as a full-bodied wine. Its higher alcohol content makes the wine more viscous, giving it that ‘full’ mouth feel.
What food does merlot pair best with?
Like many a full-bodied red, merlot pairs best with hearty, meaty meals. Roast lamb, beef wellington, grilled chops, a rare fillet steak; if it’s red and juicy, it’ll go with this most red and juicy of wines. Vegetarians are wise to choose dishes with similar heartiness or strong umami flavours – mushroom heavy dishes and roasted seasonal vegetables, for example.